- Demand level playing field as party woos Obasanjo, Atiku, Kwakwanso, others
- PDP accuses APC of attempting to hoodwink Nigerians on restructuring
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
As the Peoples Democratic Party ups the tempo on wooing back former members of the party who had decamped to other parties, its push to win them back has met with some challenges, as it was learnt that some ex-members have given the party leadership conditions under which they would return to its fold.
A top PDP leader who did not want his name mentioned due to the sensitive nature of the issue, revealed to THISDAY that those planning to return are insisting on certain conditions, some of which include that they should be allowed equal participation in all electoral contests without discrimination.
â€œOne thing common to all of them is that they are demanding that the party should ensure a level field. They said that they do not want discrimination in any way and that if the party leadership can guarantee that there will be equality in participating in the affairs of the party, then they would rejoin,â€ the source said.
So far, THISDAY gathered that a number of former PDP stalwarts have been contacted by the partyâ€™s contact and mobilisation committee for their return to the party.
A highly reliable source in the party said the list of politicians include former President Olusegun Obasanjo, his deputy, Atiku Abubakar, former governor of Kano State Rabiu Kwankwaso, erstwhile governor of Osun state, Col. Olagunsoye Oyinlola (rtd), former Oyo State governor, Rasheed Ladoja, and other ex-bigwigs of the party from the South-west.
Others being approached are former PDP chieftains whose move to the All Progressives Congress (APC) was said to have boosted the ruling partyâ€™s electoral fortunes and caused the defeat of PDP in 2015.
According to the source, the aim is to woo as many of the former party members as possible.
The source also said that the effort to woo more members is not limited to former party leaders, adding that the PDP leadership is spreading its dragnet to reach out to some disgruntled APC members.
He said similar discussions were ongoing simultaneously with former party members and those in other parties in all the six geopolitical zones in the country.
Most of these former chieftains of the PDP left the party in the wake of the intra-party crisis that hit it in the run up to the 2015 general election and the leadership crisis after the election.
When contacted for his views on the progress being made at wooing members back, a founding member of the PDP, Prof. Tunde Adeniran told THISDAY that he might not know all those that had so far been contacted by the partyâ€™s leadership because there is a team responsible for doing so.
He said that the party has decided to keep its doors open not only to former members to return but for others from the other parties, including the ruling APC to come and be part of the transformation in the PDP.
Adeniran, who once chaired the PDPâ€™s Sub-committee on Strategy and is currently an aspirant for the national chairmanship seat, said the party aims to woo as many leading politicians as possible into its fold before the next elective convention in December.
On the issue of a search for a presidential candidate, Adeniran said that it was not an issue at present, adding that the party was focusing on the Anambra governorship election slated for November 18 and how to win the contest.
â€œAfter that, the party hopes to organise the best convention ever in the country which will be free from all the ills of the past, so that we can have a formidable team to prepare for the 2019 general election,â€ he said.
The PDP reconciliation is co-chaired by Gombe State governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo and his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike.
While inaugurating the committee, the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi specifically charged them to bring back to the fold former political office holders who were elected on the platform on the party.
According to Makarfi, the committee is to reconcile and bring back to the fold those who held top political offices on the PDP platform, be they presidents, vice-presidents, speakers, deputy speakers, governors or deputy governors.
â€œYou can even reconcile with those who have never been in the PDP and bring them to the PDP. You must not close the doors to anybody coming into the PDP, and we must create a level playing field,â€ he had said.
Meanwhile, the PDP has accused the ruling APC of attempting to divide Nigerians by its sudden interest in the countryâ€™s restructuring after several months of denial that it promised restructuring in its manifesto.
The main opposition party also faulted the statement made by the National Publicity Secretary of the APC Mr. Bolaji Ojo-Abdullahi alleging that the PDP was not interested in restructuring and described it as laughable.
Following divergent views by its stakeholders, the National Working Committee of the APC raised a 24-man committee headed by the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru El-rufai to articulate a position on restructuring and advice the leadership of the ruling party accordingly.
However, in a statement issued yesterday by PDP spokesman, Dayo Adeyeye, the PDP described APCâ€™s move as â€œdeceitful ploys designed and being implemented by the party to hoodwink Nigerians ahead of the 2019 general electionâ€.
It said the APC should not be taken seriously on the issue of restructuring, describing the ruling party as a â€œdo nothing party that believes in nothingâ€.
â€œWe have read the statement credited to the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Bolaji Ojo-Abdullahi in which he said that our party, the PDP, has never been and is not interested in the restructuring of the country with amusement.
â€œThis sudden resurrection of the ruling partyâ€™s interest in â€˜restructuringâ€™ after several months of denial by the chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, some governors elected on the platform of the party, and other senior party officials that the APC promised restructuring in its manifesto and during the campaigns in 2015, is the latest in a series of deceitful ploys designed and being implemented by the party to hoodwink Nigerians ahead of the 2019 general election,â€ the main opposition party said.
PDP added: â€œRestructuring is a process of re-arrangement, re-organisation or re-formation in the manner or way in which something (in this case governance) is done.
â€œRestructuring is the modification of the system of governance to guarantee the socio-economic and political growth and development of the Nigerian people.â€
PDP noted that it had become imperative to inform Nigerians that it is not against the restructuring of the system of governance in the country in a manner that places Nigeria firmly on the path of growth, development and prosperity.
According to PDP, its commitment to constantly seeking solutions to the challenges confronting the nation had led it to amend its constitution to include the equitable devolution of power for greater functionality, national integration, and rapid economic and social reconstruction, among other issues.
PDP also argued that it was due to its commitment to restructuring the system of socio-political governance in Nigeria for better functionality and efficiency that the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan convened a National Conference to recommend amendments to the Nigerian Constitution.
â€œThis conference submitted a report with several proposed amendments to the constitution which the APC-led federal government has refused to implement more than two years later.
â€œIt is imperative to point out that the APC was the only political party which refused to attend the National Conference in 2014. It is also imperative to point out that APCâ€™s refusal to participate at the conference was predicated on narrow and selfish interests.
â€œFurther evidence of our commitment to the restructuring of the country is provided in a statement to newsmen by the National Chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi on June 22, 2017.
â€œIn light of the above, we reiterate our support for the restructuring of the system of governance in the country to ensure more functional and efficient governance at all tiers of government.
â€œWe urge opinion leaders and leaders of thought around the country to participate in the process in the best interest of our country and its people.
â€œFinally, we wish to reiterate our position that the APC has nothing more to offer Nigeria and Nigerians. The party only resorts to unbridled propaganda as a ploy to deceive Nigerians and distract them from the topical issues upon which they are required to assess APCâ€™s performance in office.
â€œNigerians should never take the APC for its word. It is a party that was built and is still being sustained by propaganda. Making empty promises is its stock in trade. It is a do nothing party that believes in nothing,â€ said the PDP.